Despite rising costs associated with inflation, consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable products vs. less sustainable competitors, according to the second-annual Business of Sustainability Index from environmental technology company GreenPrint.
This is true of 66 percent of Americans and 80 percent of young consumers between the ages 18 and 34, according to the index, which tracks sentiment around sustainability in the economy.
However, 78 percent of respondents say they don’t know how to identify environmentally friendly companies, despite wanting to buy from them. To confirm a company’s environmental friendliness, 50 percent agree that clear language on products is important and 46 percent say third-party or independent source confirmation is important.
Among those who shop for environmentally friendly products, 72 percent use labels or third-party certifications on the product’s packaging to confirm if it’s environmentally friendly.
“Americans are very clear — they want sustainable solutions and are willing to pay more for them, if only they knew how to find them,” said Pete Davis, CEO and co-founder of GreenPrint. “We are in the midst of a significant acceleration in public demand for sustainability, and companies that do not meet that demand will quickly fall behind their competitors, especially with young Americans.”
The study also revealed a significant trust gap between Americans and corporations when it comes to sustainability. Only 38 percent of Americans believe corporations most or all of the time when they make claims of environmental friendliness, a noticeable drop from 47 percent in GreenPrint’s 2021 study.
Overall, 41 percent of respondents say American corporations are doing a poor job at reducing their carbon footprint. When it comes to demonstrating an actionable commitment to becoming more environmentally friendly, 56 percent say airlines and fleet services are not doing well, followed by the energy/gas industry (48 percent).
“Over the past year, public trust in the authenticity and effectiveness of companies’ sustainability efforts has eroded significantly,” Davis said. “This puts businesses making genuine progress in a bind because their actions are less likely to be recognized. To win back trust, the data clearly shows Americans want companies to validate their sustainability claims through independent sources, both on the corporate level and for their products.”
Other key findings from GreenPrint’s second Business of Sustainability Index include:
- 75 percent of Americans are concerned about the environmental impact of the products they buy.
- 64 percent of Americans would be willing to pay more for gas if the carbon emissions from their purchases were offset through sustainability efforts. For consumers ages 18 to 34, this percentage jumps to 75 percent. When the survey was conducted the national gas price average was $4.17.
- 69 percent say a product’s environmental friendliness is important to their purchasing decision.
- 70 percent agree climate events from the past year — such as wildfires, floods, air quality dangers, extreme heat, drought, etc. — have made them more likely to purchase environmentally friendly products. Of this group, 38 percent were not buying those types of products before, but recent climate events have encouraged them to do so.
- 45 percent believe it’s hard to maintain environmentally friendly purchasing habits.
- 73 percent would sign up for a company’s voluntary rewards or loyalty program if it helped reduce the carbon footprint of their purchases.
- 64 percent would like to own a credit card that automatically offsets a percentage of the environmental impact of their purchases.
- 60 percent are more likely to buy stock in a company that is environmentally friendly versus one that is not.
The Business of Sustainability Index and its future editions will track sentiment around sustainability in the economy, including how climate consciousness impacts consumer preference and perceptions of companies and their products as well as the overall effectiveness of the sustainability benchmarking ecosystem across various sectors and demographics.
The Xcelerant survey conducted for the second-annual index was fielded from March 7-8 among 1,062 adults who are 18 years old or older.
GreenPrint, a PDI company, is a global environmental technology company that offers sustainability as a service with patent-protected programs that deliver environmental impact and bottom-line results.